Newsletter of February 10th, 2021
External Current Events
On Friday, February 5th, 2021, the International Criminal Court (ICC) declared that its jurisdiction, due to Palestine being a signatory of the Treaty of Rome which established the ICC, extends over territory in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territory which has been at the head of a major struggle between Israel and Palestine in their disputes over sovereignty and territory (Federman, 2021). The jurisdiction would allow both Israeli and Palestinian actions in the region to be investigated, and murmurings have occurred that the 2014 war in Gaza could be prosecuted – both against the Israeli government and Hamas militants (Federman, 2021).
The argument, which would allow the ICC – to which Israel is not a signatory state – to issue arrest warrants against Israeli personnel, has been received harshly in Israel and its allies, while celebrated by the Palestinian Authority and its allies (Federman, 2021) (Amnesty International, 2021). Already several high-profile states, including Germany, the United States, Australia, and Brazil have denounced the ICC’s decision, and the US has even placed sanctions on the court (Amnesty International, 2021).
Not many countries have issued statements on the new ruling, however the Israeli government is already ramping up lobbying efforts by its foreign ministers in allied nations to push for condemnations of the ICC decision (Ravid, 2021). Netanyahu has already publicly denounced both the decision and the institution as a whole, calling the court politicized, the decision itself anti-Semitic and the accusation of crimes by the Israeli army as false (Middle East Monitor, 2021). It is likely that Netanyahu is looking for other nations to make similar denunciations, but only the coming weeks will tell which countries come out to support Israel or the ICC.
Federman, Josef. ICC Clears Way for War Crimes Probe of Israeli Actions. Associated Press, 5 February 2021, https://apnews.com/article/icc-war-crimes-probe-israel- e64fa0f0c4ba99d9ae251c11cb913f15.
Israel/OPT: Historic ICC Ruling Brings New Hope to Victims of Crimes Under International Law. Amnesty International, 5 February 2021, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/02/israel-opt-historic-icc-ruling-brings- hope-for-victims-of-crimes-under-international-law/.
Netanyahu: ICC Probe into 'Fake' Israel Army Crimes 'Pure Anti-Semitism'. Middle East Monitor, 8 February 2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210208-netanyahu- icc-probe-into-fake-israel-army-crimes-pure-anti-semitism/.
Ravid, Barak. Scoop: Israel Will Ask Allies to Pressure ICC Prosecutor Against Opening War Crimes Investigation. Axios, 7 February 2021, https://www.axios.com/israel-icc- political-pressure-prosecutor-18b8af1d-96e8-424d-a6e8-aea601852d88.html.
Internal Current Events
On February 8th, Yavne’s mayor said that teachers that do not receive the vaccine will not be able to come back to their teaching positions. Zvi Gov-Ari also said, “Teaching staff who are not vaccinated are endangering themselves and their students.” Hay Galis, the CEO of BIG Shopping Centers, has also said that employees must get both doses of the vaccine in order to get entry into the company’s offices. Galis said that the vaccine requirement to enter the company’s offices also includes guest and suppliers. On top of these actions, Energy Minster Yuval Steinitz has also put fourth legislation that would require the public to be inoculated or they will face punitive measures. These actions come after 3,480,598 Israelis have received the first dose and 2,081,998 people have received the second dose since Monday. The goal is to have 90% of people over 50 years old vaccinated by the next two weeks in order to help with the spread of new mutations in Israel.
Yavne mayor says schools off-limits to unvaccinated teachers. (2021, February 8). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.timesofisrael.com/yavne-mayor-says-schools-off-limits-to-unvaccinated-teachers/
Also, on February 8th, Israel’s police along with the IDF were involved in a chase after multiple people broke into the Nevatim Israel Air Force Base that night. A reportedly stolen car that was driven by two or three Bedouins was driving away from the police when the drivers realized the gates to the base were open and decided to use that as their way to escape. The suspects had to go on foot after their tires were destroyed by spikes at the base and after two hours the IDF said that they had found signs that pointed to the fact that the suspects had climbed multiple fences to get off of the base. There was at first fear that the suspects would damage equipment like the F-35 squadron that was located on the base, however, the IDF reported that no equipment on the base was in danger of being destroyed.
Shaham, U., & Siegal, T. (2021, February 9). Suspects steal car, break into Nevatim IAF base, escape on foot. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/idf-police-chase-suspects-who-broke-in-nevatim-iaf-base-658288
Multiple legal pundits said on the night of February 8th that it currently looks like the evidentiary stage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will not take place until after the election on March 23rd. This information comes after Netanyahu made an appearance at the Jerusalem District Court for a hearing where he officially pled not guilty after multiple delays due to the coronavirus. At this same hearing his lawyers also asked the judge to postponement the sessions that are to come. It has also been reported by multiple sources that the judge said that further delays are to come even though chief judge said that they should have had heard about the evidence awhile ago. The delays according to the Prime Minister’s lawyers are due to the scale of the allegations and arguments that are a part of the evidentiary stage. In regard to Netanyahu’s lawyers’ request for a delay, the judge is still considering whether or not to accept this request and only plans to make a decision once another hearing has taken place on Mandelblit’s approval of the probes.
Wootliff, R., & Bachner, M. (2021, February 8). Evidence stage of Netanyahu's trial expected to be put off until after election. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.timesofisrael.com/evidence-stage-of-netanyahus-trial-expected-to-be-put-off-until-after-election/
One Jewish activist everyone should know about is Ashagar Araro. From humble beginnings, Ashager was born in Ethiopia and airlifted with her family to Israel during Operation Solomon, carried out by the IDF in 1991 (JVL, 2021). Nowadays, Ashagar was truly paved a path that is uniquely her own.
The most important strategy that Ashager utilizes to combat stereotypes about Israelis, Jews and Ethiopian Israelis is through education. Which she believes is the best way to enact change and her way of protesting people that fuel those stereotypes. Now founder of “Battae” an Ethiopian Israeli cultural heritage center, she educates people from all over about the richness of Ethiopian Jewish culture and their history spanning back 2,000 years.
Ashager can be found on Twitter @AshagerAraro and on Instagram @blackjewishmagic where she posts almost daily dispelling rumors, stereotypes and myth.
Operation Solomon. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/operation-solomon.
Battae. (2020). https://www.battae.com/.
21see, XinhuaNet, Levanon, T., Leichman, A. K., ISRAEL21c, Blackburn, N., & Barak, N. (2020, July 7). Meet the woman breaking down barriers in Israel. ISRAEL21c. https://www.israel21c.org/meet-the-woman-breaking-down-barriers-in-israel/.
Jesner, L., Bitton, M., Oster, M., Cramer, P., Levine, R. Y., Burton, J., & Benor, S. B. (2020, December 30). As an infant, she was airlifted to safety. Today she's bringing Ethiopian culture alive in Tel Aviv. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. https://www.jta.org/2020/12/30/opinion/as-an-infant-she-was-airlifted-to-safety-today-shes-bringing-ethiopian-culture-alive-in-tel-aviv.